Cablegate: Demarche: Civil Society Participation in 2008


DE RUEHC #5438 0952212
P R 042206Z APR 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

Sensitive but unclassified. Please handle accordingly.


1. (SBU) Embassy is requested to meet with MFA Assistant U/S
Haidan or other appropriate UAEG official to press the UAEG
to include the same number of civil society representatives
in G8-Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) events in
2008 as were included in 2007 events, and to announce the
2008 schedule as soon as possible.


2. (SBU) Department requests that Embassy pursue the
following objectives:

--Inform the UAEG of the strong, positive tradition of civil
society participation in BMENA events, including the Forum
for the Future. NGOs that participate want to forge
constructive relationships with governments to promote
reform, not to embarrass governments.

--Urge the UAEG to invite at least the same number of civil
society representatives in each event as were included in
2007, drawing on the numbers in paragraph 6.

--Note that civil society organizations are already
organizing themselves for this year's events but they seek
official notification as soon as possible from the UAE and
Japan on the dates, locations, and numbers of participants.
Inform the UAEG that civil society groups will likely
organize the "parallel forum" a few days before the Forum in

Reporting Deadline

3. (U) Embassy should report results of efforts by cable to
NEA/PI Blake Thorkelson by April 9.


4. (SBU) Since the inception of BMENA in 2004, civil society
has been an important and growing element of the initiative.
Among its objectives, BMENA seeks to support civil society
activists in their efforts to promote democracy and reform,
and to foster cooperative relationships with governments in
achieving reform goals. Civil society representatives
participate in the annual Forum for the Future and the Forum
Subministerial, making recommendations for action by civil
society groups and governments. While NGO participation can
cause nervousness with some governments, BMENA events have
not been used in the past as platforms to attack governments.
The NGOs that participate have consistently demonstrated
their interest in working constructively with governments.

5. (SBU) Civil society organizations are planning and
implementing their activities for 2008 but need to know from
this year's Forum co-hosts, the UAE and Japan, the schedule
of events and how many of their representatives will be
included. This will only help to focus the constructive
participation of civil society in these meetings. Any
backtracking on the numbers of participants would be taken as
a negative signal from governments and negatively affect
BMENA's atmosphere of cooperation.

6. (SBU) For 2008, we recommend the following numbers of
civil society participants:

--Forum Subministerial: 25 (same as 2007 subministerial)
--Fall planning meeting (if any): 4
--Forum Ministerial: 60 (56 were invited to the 2007 Forum
in Yemen, which was canceled, and 54 participated in Jordan
in 2006)

We understand from Japan that the UAE is agreeable to an
NGO-organized "parallel civil society forum" as has taken
place successfully the last three years. The parallel forum
has been an effective vehicle to expand the scope of civil
society participation in the Forum process, outside of those
leaders who can attend the official events. This event,
which involves hundreds of NGOs, does not fall under the
auspices of the government but government officials are
invited to participate. For example, Yemeni FM Qirbi
attended last year's Parallel Civil Society in Sanaa and
expressed his support for the initiative, and was joined by
other foreign governmental representatives. Japan has
informed us that the UAE is planning for a parallel forum in
early June, but organizers likely will hold it in
mid-October, a few days before the Forum.

7. (SBU) BMENA events will occur in the coming few weeks.
Japan will host a government planning meeting in Tokyo on
April 24-25, and leaders of the NGO coordination group, the
Democracy Assistance Dialogue (DAD), are planning a strategy
meeting in Istanbul in early May. It is critical that the
UAEG officially announce dates for the Forum Subministerial
and Ministerial, with numbers of civil society participants,
as soon as possible to maintain momentum and ensure
successful events this year. We understand from Japan and
the UAE that current planning is for a subministerial in
Dubai on June 10 and the Forum ministerial on October 19.
(Note: Japan has already made the points in para 2 and has
asked for our assistance in reinforcing them. Japan also has
encouraged the UAE to cooperate with us on BMENA civil
society issues. End note.)

Point of Contact

8. (U) Please contact NEA/PI Blake Thorkelson (776-8307) or
Laura Schulz (776-8691) for additional information.

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